Account Schedules webinar on Wednesday April 23rd 1pm ET

I’m presenting a webinar tomorrow on account schedules through the NAVUG.  The webinar is a repeat of a session I did at Microsoft Dynamics Convergence this year and covers some account schedule basics in the beginning, but spends most of the hour long session on live demos showing nine different ways to look at an income statement using account schedules.

This is a premium event from NAVUG, which means you’ve got to have a paid membership to attend the webinar or view the recording, which will be available on Collaborate in about a week.

http://www.navug.com/events/04232014

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NAV AS 101 Lesson 4: Basic Elements of Account Schedules

123There are three foundational concepts you must understand in order to use account schedules to their full potential.

1.  Row setup

The row setup is the area of the report where you’ll show either single general ledger accounts or groups of general ledger accounts. If you imagine a trial balance, the rows of a trial balance correspond to single general ledger accounts. The row setup of an income statement would be an example of where you might use groups of general ledger accounts.

2.  Column layout

The column layout is where you will define periods of time to be used in your reports. Most financial reports are showing us some period of time compared to the data (in this case, general ledger accounts) we are reporting against. Common column layouts may be current month versus year to date, or a twelve month net change (income statement accounts) or twelve month balance (balance sheet accounts). You can apply any column layout you design against any of the row setups you design. As a result, most NAV account schedule users end up with many more column layouts designed than row setups.

3.  Analysis views

Analysis views are the element of account schedules that lend flexibility and power to your account schedules by accessing your dimensions. Account schedules can always use the two global dimensions you have set up even if you aren’t using analysis views. Once you start using analysis views, you can get to the shortcut dimensions you have defined. When using analysis views, you can access many combinations of any of your dimensions, but you are limited to only four at a time. By setting up multiple analysis views in different groupings, you can set up almost any combination you can think of to produce your financial reports using any of your defined dimensions.

There are all kinds of ways to expand on these three foundational concepts, but let’s start with these simple concepts first before we talk more about additional things you can do with row setups, column layouts, and analysis views.

In addition, you need to understand three other concepts in order to use account schedules in the most efficient way possible.  Mastering these three concepts will allow you to build and utilize account schedules quickly and easily.

4. Printing or exporting to Microsoft Excel

You have the option of either printing account schedules directly out of NAV or exporting them to Microsoft Excel. I recommend learning how to use the export to Excel update option so you can easily and quickly export your account schedules every month by using a pre-formatted Excel “shell”. The shell only needs to be created the very first time. Then, each time you update your reports, you only need to update the numbers – there is no need to update the formatting each time.

5. Formulas

There are two types of formulas used in account schedules. The first type are basic mathematical formulas, generally based on row number references, that allow you to do simple calculations against your data. These are used in both the row setup and the column layout.

The second type are formulas which are only used in the column layout and are based on comparison period or comparison date fields. Most users find getting used to the conventions of these fields difficult as they are not intuitive at first. I’ve got three suggestions to help with that: 1) use the NAV help menu to look at “comparison period formula” and “comparison date formula”; 2) get in there and play around - you’re not going to hurt anything, and if you know what numbers you should have, you’ll figure it out after some experimenting; and 3) use the account schedules formulas page from this blog. I developed the account schedules formula page because the number one request I have gotten in all my account schedules classes is for a cheat sheet of account schedule formulas.

6. Manipulating the matrix

The largest change between Classic NAV versions (NAV2009 Classic, 5.0, or earlier versions) and Role Tailored Client NAV versions (NAV2009 RTC, NAV 2013, and future versions) is the development of the matrix. The new matrix allows for a whole lot of functionality that we just didn’t have before which makes account schedules a little more Excel-like for many users. If you used one of the Classic versions previously, you’ll find the navigation pathways of RTC versions are significantly different and can take some getting used to. Microsoft did not do a great job with account schedules in the NAV2009 RTC version – there are some things there that are clunky, non-functional, and cumbersome. The good news is they fixed all those problems with NAV2013 and threw in some additional features on top of it, making account schedules even better with that version.

This posting is part of the NAV Account Schedules 101 series.  Find the entire list of lessons here.

Don’t forget to visit the Account Schedule Formulas and Account Schedule Examples pages if you’re looking for even more ideas on how to improve your financial reporting using account schedules with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.


Week One Recap: NAV Account Schedules 101

repeatHere’s the week 1 recap on the NAV Account Schedules 101 series.  Follow the links below to view the posts for each of the lessons we covered this week or view the entire series here.

NAV AS 101 Lesson 1: Why do I use Account Schedules?

NAV AS 101 Lesson 2: Am I anti add-on?

NAV AS 101 Lesson 3: Where else can you learn about Account Schedules?

Don’t forget to visit the Account Schedule Formulas and Account Schedule Examples pages if you’re looking for even more ideas on how to improve your financial reporting using account schedules with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.


NAV AS 101 Lesson 3: Where else can you learn about Account Schedules?

LearningIf you’re reading this, you are probably looking for answers now, as in “my implementation goes live in a month and I don’t have my financial statements figured out yet”. This is by far the most common question I get from people looking for answers about account schedules.

Assuming you are already a Microsoft Dynamics NAV customer, and you’re current on your BREP (Business Ready Enhancement Plan) or other service plan, you need to go to CustomerSource to get access to e-learning modules and training manuals that are just waiting for you to find them. CustomerSource is Microsoft’s official site for user documentation and e-learning modules and your partner should have set you up with access and shown you how to use it when you purchased NAV for your company. If not, give your partner a call to ask them to get you set up now. The CustomerSource site has had a makeover in recent months, and my general impression so far is that the site looks better, but they still have a lot of work to do in making user documentation and e-learning resources easy to get to.

For the last three versions of NAV, here’s where you’ll find information about Account Schedules. As a quick tip for finding things, type in just the course number (ex. 80535) listed into the search function in order to get to what you need fast.

NAV2013 search for: 80535 Finance Advanced in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 and 80440 Trade in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013

NAV2009 with the RTC (Role Tailored client) search for: Course 80050 Business Intelligence for Information Workers. You may also try Course 80258 Trade in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 to expand into the topics of analysis reports and analysis by dimensions.

NAV 5.0 or below with the Classic client search for:   Course 8875 Business Intelligence for Information Workers in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0Course 8939 Trade in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0, and Course 8713 What’s New in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 Part I (chapter 8 talks about some of the improvements that were made to account schedules between version 4.0 and 5.0).

Choose documentation for the version that you are currently using since these resources will illustrate examples in screen shots that are familiar to you. If you’re not yet using the RTC, you don’t need to struggle through documentation shown in an interface that you’re not using yet. I’ll maintain that the basic functionality of account schedules is the same (so far), and the major difference between the Classic client and the RTC is navigation, as well as look and feel, of the new matrix.

Find the link to this wealth of information here. Remember, you’ll need to be logged in with the Windows Live ID that is associated with your company’s CustomerSource account.

This posting is part of the NAV Account Schedules 101 series.  Find the entire list of lessons here.

Don’t forget to visit the Account Schedule Formulas and Account Schedule Examples pages if you’re looking for even more ideas on how to improve your financial reporting using account schedules with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.


NAV AS 101 Lesson 2: Am I anti add-on?

exclamation-pointQuite a few people have asked me if I’m anti add-on. The answer is, “No, I’m not anti add-on, I’m just really pro account schedule.” I believe account schedules can do whatever you need related to foundational financial reporting using NAV. If you are looking to produce your basic financial statements using the software you already own with no additional cost or separate tool, then account schedules are exactly what you need.

There are many more reasons for needing reporting other than financial reporting, and NAV does not fulfill all of these needs. If you are looking for a comprehensive Business Intelligence solution, Key Performance Indicators, Dashboards, sophisticated graphics, beautiful interfaces, or even operational reporting that reaches out to other areas of your ERP system before the information hits the general ledger, then account schedules are not the tool for you.

If you’re a Microsoft Dynamics NAV user, like I am, there are a whole ton of choices to make regarding financial reporting.

  • Account Schedules, the native financial reporting package that reports on general ledger transactions.
  • Analysis Reports, also a native NAV reporting option, that extends reporting to item ledger entries from the sales and purchasing tables.
  • Object Designer, the native C/SIDE development tool used for the NAV application, which includes a report writer.
  • SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services), a Microsoft reporting tool package that uses the SQL programming language.
  • PowerPivot, the free Microsoft Excel add-on that became available with Microsoft Office 2010, allowing data to load from NAV (and other data sources) through a direct connection to Excel.
  • JET Express, a former ISV (Independent Software Vendor) reporting solution, released for NAV 2009 in 2011 as available for NAV users, and included with the Microsoft BREP (Business Ready Enhancement Plan), instead of as a separately purchased add-on solution.
  • Management Reporter, released by Microsoft in 2012 as a free add-on for all Microsoft Dynamics ERPs with the caveat that, for NAV users, it is only available if you already had the licensing for FRx.
  • Any large number of additional ISV solutions, sold as separately purchased add-ons to NAV.

As the Controller for my company, it’s my job to stay informed on what’s available and determine which choices are the best possible given the available skills sets of the employees who use them and the overall cost. It’s also my job to make sure I know what the future direction of the ERP software is, so I can advise on decisions we make as a company with that knowledge in hand.

I have to admit, I’m the kind of person who likes choices, and I’ve sampled every single option on the list above in one way or another. The reporting strategy for my company is based on three principles:  1) the report must balance to the general ledger, 2) it must be consistently replicated in future periods, 3) it must be able to be maintained by someone in the company with the right skill set.

Ultimately, my choice for foundational financial reporting, the reporting that I need to produce as a deliverable for my company each and every month, is account schedules.

This posting is part of the NAV Account Schedules 101 series.  Find the entire list of lessons here.

Don’t forget to visit the Account Schedule Formulas and Account Schedule Examples pages if you’re looking for even more ideas on how to improve your financial reporting using account schedules with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.


NAV AS 101 Lesson 1: Why do I use Account Schedules?

decesion_makingI use account schedules as the primary source of financial reporting at my company. With all the available choices out there, why do I use account schedules? I’ve got a whole list of reasons.

1)  I can custom build all of my financial statements, exactly how I want to see them.  

Especially when I talk with prospective NAV customers, I hear a lot of objections as to why NAV doesn’t come with “out of the box” financial statements. If you think about this for a bit, what part of your company’s financials will fit the definition of “out of the box”? Is your chart of accounts the same as someone else’s? What about the name of your accounts? Your numbering convention? Is the way you present your financial statements just like anyone else’s? If you built your financial statements using an out of the box solution, how long would it be before you began to customize them?

Why not build them the way you want them the first time and be able to customize them as your company changes?

2)  Account schedules tie directly to the general ledger.

Someone told me once that reporting from the general ledger was the best way to get to the truth. Since my financial statements have got to be accurate and consistent above all else, I like this idea. I know, that without a doubt, my account schedules tie back to my trial balance and my detailed transactional postings. I can prove it out over and over. I can use my account schedules to debunk some of the untruths that come out of some of our other reporting sources. Knowing I can get to the truth makes me trust the results I get from account schedules and gives me confidence in deeming them as the place to get exactly the right answer.

3)  Budgets integrate really well with account schedules.

I use the budgets area of NAV extensively. However, I only actually touch the budgets area once a year, when I populate them with our next years’ data. Budgets integrate to account schedules so fluidly that I have no reason to go back and forth between the two during the year as I track how we’re doing in comparison to budget or even as I look ahead to remind myself of what the plan was. I can get this information from account schedules and get all my financial information from one place.

4)  Dimensions along with account schedules are a powerful combination.

Account schedules without dimensions are like James Bond without Q. James Bond can certainly hold his own without all the gadgets, but come on, the things that Q adds are really cool! Adding dimensions in almost as many combinations as you can think of gives you added power in your account schedules and lets you stretch beyond mere financial reporting and expand into operational reporting.

5)  Drill downs

The drill down feature from account schedules is unsurpassed as a quick research tool. Any number you can produce in an account schedule that comes from the general ledger (instead of as the result of a formula) can get you to the source of the number by drilling down. That means you can find the exact source(s) of a highly summarized number whether it comes from an invoice or a journal entry, and you can track down where that number came from, when it happened, and even who the user was who created it.

6)  They export easily to Excel.

My monthly financial statement package is 18 pages, all produced out of account schedules. Each month, I export directly to Excel and produce reports that are consistently formatted and look the same every month. I’ve got good control over the process while still having the flexibility I need when we decide we want to make a change. All of this gets loaded up to SharePoint for the end users who use them, and no tree products are harmed in the production of our financials.

7)  Account schedules can be built and maintained by finance folks without IT help.

This is, and always has been, the big seller for me. I’m a DIY kind of person. I do my own landscaping, I bake my own bread (not all the time), I can build a fire while camping, and I painted my own living room. These same principles flow through to my business. I want to be able to do it myself. I love my IT colleagues, but goodness knows they have enough to do without having to produce my financials. Account schedules are easy enough to use that I don’t need to know a programming language, or how to accomplish a table join, in order to build them. All I need is knowledge of my chart of accounts, what the structure of my dimensions and budgets are, what the differences are between balance sheet and income statement accounts, and some simple formulas.

This posting is part of the NAV Account Schedules 101 series.  Find the entire list of lessons here.

Don’t forget to visit the Account Schedule Formulas and Account Schedule Examples pages if you’re looking for even more ideas on how to improve your financial reporting using account schedules with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.


NAV Account Schedules 101

I’ve decided to give away my account schedule class material here on the blog in this Series: NAV Account Schedules 101. Check back to see what’s been added, or choose to follow the blog to receive email updates (or subscribe to the RSS feed), so you don’t miss any of these when they come out. Most examples and screen shots will be shown in NAV2013, but I’ll make sure to tie back any significant differences to 5.0 and NAV2009 Classic and RTC. The list of topics we’ll be covering is below and you’ll see two or three new ones come out every week until we’re through the whole list.

Don’t forget to visit the Account Schedule Formulas and Account Schedule Examples pages if you’re looking for even more ideas on how to improve your financial reporting using account schedules with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

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NAV AS 101 Lesson 1: Why do I use Account Schedules?

NAV AS 101 Lesson 2: Am I anti add-on?

NAV AS 101 Lesson 3: Where else can you learn about Account Schedules?

NAV AS 101 Lesson 4: Basic Elements of Account Schedules

NAV AS 101 Lesson 5: Getting Started

NAV AS 101 Lesson 6: Row Setup

NAV AS 101 Lesson 7: Column Layout

NAV AS 101 Lesson 8: Formatting

NAV AS 101 Lesson 9: Formulas

NAV AS 101 Lesson 10: Comparison Period v. Comparison Date

NAV AS 101 Lesson 11: Filtering

NAV AS 101 Lesson 12: Drilling Down

NAV AS 101 Lesson 13: Printing Account Schedules

NAV AS 101 Lesson 14: Exporting to Excel

NAV AS 101 Lesson 15: Dimensions with Account Schedules

NAV AS 101 Lesson 16: Analysis Views

NAV AS 101 Lesson 17: Budgets with Account Schedules

NAV AS 101 Lesson 18: Account Schedules not balancing?

NAV AS 101 Lesson 19: Row numbering

NAV AS 101 Lesson 20: Sharing with your friends

NAV AS 101 Lesson 21: Account Schedule Bugs

NAV AS 101 Lesson 22: Dealing with Zeros

NAV AS 101 Lesson23: Copy and Paste

NAV AS 101 Lesson 24: When to change the sign

NAV AS 101 Lesson 25: What else can I do with Account Schedules?


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